Cajun Country Foodie Post

I was invited to spend Labor Day weekend with NOLAnotes and BSIComics at a friend’s camp in Intracoastal City, La. It’s pretty much directly south of Lafayette near ((but not on) the Gulf. The nearest towns are Abbeville, Erath and Delcambre, all pretty much Cajun fishing communities that have served to support the offshore oil industry for generati0ns now. There’s a canal in back where we’re trying to catch crabs and fish but the gators keep messing with us.

We took a side trip to Avery Island, home of the Tabasco sauce factory and other attractions. I remember visiting it as a kid, driving around the pretty island, seeing the sites, and touring the factory. I remembered a warehouse full of oak mixing tanks 2o feet tall and stacks of oak casks aging the fermenting pepper mash, which, after 3 years, will be mixed with vinegar to form the sauce that is eventually bottled and sold throughout the world. To this day I remeber the aroma of fermenting peppers that hit you in the face as soon as we got out of the car at the factory.

Unfortunately, that version of Avery Island no  longer exists. There is no driving around the island any more. You are directed straight to a “country store” where all manner of Tabasco brand regalia is offered for sale. We took the tour of the new factory, built after my childhood visit sometime in the 1970s. Alas, you’re not allowed in the aging facility, but herded straight into a small auditorium for a 10-minute film hosted by TV’s Susan Roesgen. They do show all these things you can’t see in person in the film, but it’s not the same experience at all. Directly afterwards, you are herded past the bottling facility; sterile, idle, and uninteresting the day we toured.

Bright spots: I picked up some Tabasco products not readily available everywhere else. A bottle of Thai-style sweet chili sauce, some of their teriyaki sauce that has a lot of ginger as well as a pepper kick and a three-pound bag of the pepper pulp left over after they bottle the Tabasco sauce. It’s got that same pungent aroma I remembered from the factory as a kid, so there’s that.

On the way back to the camp, we passed through Delcambre were Nola spotted “Shawn’s Cajun Meats, Too,” and we turned around to do some shopping. I was hoping for some home-made andouille and/or tasso, but all they offered were seasoned fresh meats. We bought a stuffed brisket (slow-cooking in the oven as I write) and some items to throw on the grill. We spotted what looked like some fresh pork sausage, but it was labeled “Syrup Sausage.” A customer overheard us speculating about the contents. He said, a) It’s good stuff; and, b) it’s spicy pork sausage that has Steen’s Cane syrup added in.

We also purchased some bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapenos, bacon-wrapped stuffed boneless chicken thighs and pork-stuffed portobello mushrooms. Grilled, all these were tasty, spicy and worth a drive to Delcambre from NOLA even for no other reason.

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